Dan Michaelson and The Coastguards gig review: 'poetic, nuanced, destined for bigger, better venues'

The singer-songwriter showcased his latest album Memory at The Forge, Camden, London

"This is going quicker than I thought it would," quips Dan Michaelson, who is backed by his accomplished six-strong band in this intimate, somewhat unforgiving venue.

The 39-year-old singer-songwriter from Northampton is showcasing his latest album, Memory, which is the final, bruised instalment of his “heartbreak” trilogy, following on from break-up records Blindspot (2013) and Distance (2014). It makes Michaelson sound po-faced, but he isn't. His raw, intimate vocals bring to mind The National’s Matt Berninger, Tindersticks, and, most of all, Leonard Cohen and Lambchop's Kurt Wagner. In other words, he’s an adept, bold lyricist, and his low-key performance here is an understated delight.

“The cold in your eyes knocks the wind out of me,” laments Michaelson on “Tides”, one of the many highlights in his 12-song set. As is the delicate, Americana-infused "Sheets" (from Blindspot), on which he pleads “I'll hold your hand so you wipe your feet again/ The point is not to let the dirt back in", and the exquisite “Memory”, where he curses his distrustful, fading recollections ("I don't remember now, what we used to laugh about").

Michaelson – who along with Johnny Flynn provided the music for the BBC’s charming sitcom Detectorists and is the lead singer for the alt-rock band Absentee – is an endearing performer, interspersing his downcast tracks with slightly nervy ("Do you mind if I have a drink?") commentary throughout. He claims it's a "special night", but this poetic, nuanced performer is surely destined for bigger, better venues.

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